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Nino Severino: Great memories of the incredible US Open tournament

PUBLISHED: 11:05 28 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:05 28 August 2019

Nino Severino, centre, with Nigel Sears and Elena Baltacha at the US Open. Picture: NINO SEVERINO

Nino Severino, centre, with Nigel Sears and Elena Baltacha at the US Open. Picture: NINO SEVERINO

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In his latest column, Nino Severino shares his memories of the US Open tournament, with tennis stars from around the globe currently doing battle in New York.

Serena Williams, left, shakes hands with Maria Sharapova after their first-round match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Monday, Aug. 26, 2019. Williams won. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)Serena Williams, left, shakes hands with Maria Sharapova after their first-round match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Monday, Aug. 26, 2019. Williams won. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

As I follow some of the results, I cannot help but re-visit some of the outstanding memories I have of this incredible tournament, steeped in so much tennis history.

The tournament is played on hard courts, and is actually the modern version of one the oldest tournaments in tennis history, the start of this competition goes all the way back to 1881.

The US Open has come a long way since those early days, now boasting some of the biggest names in sport who all play for a jaw dropping sum of prize money, 57 million dollars!

As I start to re-visit my memories, I think about the long flight from Heathrow Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, and then the process of getting through arrivals and waiting for the official transport from the US Open to pick us up.

I always remember how proud I felt that Elena and I, from Ipswich in Suffolk, were part of one of the biggest tennis shows on earth, and as I looked around the lounge, there were the famous faces of other players who had travelled from every corner of the world to play their part in this incredible tennis spectacle.

All the players knew the drill, you walked out, and you looked for the iconic US Open logo held up by one of the official drivers with your name on it, once loaded up, they transported all of the players to the official hotel in the centre of New York.

Both Elena and I loved New York, it's very hard to explain the excitement of travelling to a city of this magnitude, with the focus of playing in the main draw of one of the biggest tournaments in the world.

The sights, the New York atmosphere, the people, the hustle and bustle, and the excitement of knowing that your player's name could appear against any of the world's greatest, during the first phase of the tournament.

Every year we went, there was always a meeting with the head of British tennis from the LTA during the first few days of preparation.

Serena Williams returns to Maria Sharapova during the first round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Monday, Aug. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)Serena Williams returns to Maria Sharapova during the first round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Monday, Aug. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

I worked with two talented GB tennis leaders, Leon Smith, our great Davis Cup winning captain and the elite WTA coach, Nigel Sears.

Leon was a massive Elena Baltacha fan - not surprising as he comes from Scotland and watched Elena come through the ranks as a junior during her early development when her tennis was based there.

It was a very exciting time for this great tennis country with Judy Murray leading the charge, and heading the development of a stable of players that would one day go on to play an incredibly important part in both GB Fed Cup and Davis Cup history, capped of course with that famous Davis Cup triumph.

It's very important to have the confidence of the head of tennis, and Leon definitely extended this to both Elena and myself, and I felt it always went further, as I really did feel he respected all that Elena achieved through her tennis career.

That respect has continued, and Leon is now an official friend and supporter of the The Elena Baltacha Foundation.

It was Nigel who I spent most time with on the tour, and of course I have many memories of the support he offered Elena and I at this very important tournament in New York.

I'm so proud to include him in my portfolio of coaching mentors. He is a hugely talented coach, with an incredible player CV including Amanda Coetzer, world top 5 player, Daniela Hantuchova, top 10, Ana Ivanovic, ex-world No.1 and French Open champion, Ekaterina Makarova, another top 10 player, and now Anett Kontaveit, who is currently ranked in the top 20 players in the world, a career high.

Nigel is currently at the US Open, and just before I begun writing this column, I sent him a text, congratulating him for guiding Anette through the first round of the US Open, with a very solid 6-1, 6-1 win over the Spaniard Sorribes Tormo.

I look forward to following the many stories that will unfold as the days go by, already we have witnessed a gargantuan match with two of the greatest names in tennis history going head to head, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.

These two gladiatrix of the tennis world have been part of so many battles in New York, with Maria winning the title once, and Serena sharing the open era record for winning the most US Open titles along with Chris Evert, a staggering six times!

During her match against Maria, Serena showed she is on form beating winning 6-1, 6-1 - so could this be the year she will be the ultimate tennis queen of the US Open and take her seventh title, earning her the ultimate place in this Grand Slam's history?

All I can say to all the tennis fans across the world, is hold onto your seats. With Serena, Simona Halep, Naomi Osaka, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic all still in the draw, we have a bonanza of tennis to come.

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